After serving for years as a Walmart Executive, Rose Reza decided to move back to her hometown of Taos, New Mexico to be closer to family. In 2019, Rose was selected to lead the UNM-Taos Hive, the Hub of Internet based Vocation and Education, a private public partnership between UNM-Taos, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, and the Taos Community Center. Her charge was to take the HIVE initiative from paper to reality. Around the same time, UNM Rainforest Innovations (UNMRI) along with UNM Innovation Academy had received a 5-year University Center grant administered by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help bring eCommerce and entrepreneurial training to rural New Mexico via the UNM branch campuses. As a result, when the two entities sat down for a meeting in December 2019, the meeting felt very serendipitous and would result in what would become a valuable and mutually beneficial relationship and partnership.
In addition to providing eCommerce and technical training for entrepreneurs in rural NM, the NM Rainforest University Program’s goal was to support, nurture, and establish sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems that would continue to grow and thrive long past the duration of the 5-year grant. Rose’s goal for the UNM-Taos HIVE was to establish such an ecosystem for Taos and northern NM. As a result, the partnership between UNMRI’s NM Rainforest University Center Program and UNM-Taos HIVE was a perfect fit.
Over the course of the EDA University Center grant, UNMRI was able to support UNM-Taos HIVE by providing a paid mentor to hold quarterly virtual and in-person office hours for Taos and northern NM entrepreneurs. Stacy Sacco, Business Development, Marketing, Sales Consultant and Community Connector, was the mentor assigned to UNM-Taos and worked with Rose to provide mentoring on various topics to help Taos entrepreneurs improve and grow their businesses. UNMRI also worked, with Rose and other leaders at UNM-Taos, to bring several in-person workshops to the HIVE based on needs expressed by the community. These events included:
- Regular Office Hour Sessions
- Access to Capital Office Hour Sessions
- Sales Tips for Small Business Seminar
- How a Strong Brand Builds Value Seminar
- Community & Entrepreneur Engagement Event
The most recent of these events was the Community & Entrepreneur Engagement Event held on August 31, 2023 as a way to reflect on the 5-year grant activities, as well as celebrate the ecosystem building that has taken place and the relationship between UNMRI and UNM-Taos HIVE that will continue to support New Mexico’s entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystem.
After 5-years of the University Center grant, one of the greatest successes is the relationships and ecosystem building that has occurred. While UNMRI was able to provide technical training, mentoring, eCommerce courses, and a certificate program, the most valuable outcomes have been the relationships with other leaders, such as Rose, throughout rural and tribal New Mexico. These relationships, partnerships, and continued collaboration will help continue to grow and nurture an interconnected, collaborative, and thriving ecosystem to support New Mexico businesses and entrepreneurs.
During the August 31st event, in a diverse room of Taos and Taos Pueblo entrepreneurs, it is clear that the Taos, NM Innovation and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem is alive and thriving and will continue to grow its own programming targeted towards Taos, tribal, and northern NM entrepreneurs. UNMRI is proud to be a part of this effort and looks forward to continuing to support innovation ecosystems such as UNM-Taos HIVE in its success and continued growth.